From Al Jazeera English:
A Canadian boat taking part in a planned aid flotilla to Gaza has been boarded by Greek coast guards after attempting to break out of Crete harbour, according to activists aboard the vessel.
Most of the boats which hoped to sail to Gaza in an effort to break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory have been stuck in Greek ports after being refused permission to embark on the journey by Greek authorities.
The Tahrir sailed 15 minutes out of harbour in an attempt to reach international waters before it was intercepted by coastguards, activists told Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera spoke with activists on the boat as it was being boarded by members of the Greek coast guard.
“Some of the Greek coast guard have boarded and are trying to take control of the vessel,” Dylan Penner, a member of the steering committee of the boat, told Al Jazeera while the boat was still sailing away from the harbour.
“We’re about 15 minutes out of port, and still under power. We are still moving forward. We still have control of the Tahrir.”
But members of the coast guard promptly took control of the vessel and are currently bringing it back to port, Penner said.
“We were going 15 knots for 15 minutes, attempting to reach international waters that are 95km from the coast,” Penner said. “I estimate that we made it a quarter of the way.”
The coast guard boat was parked near the marina guarding the Tahrir, Penner said: “We saw a window of opportunity and took it by using kayakers to block the coast guard. But eventually the coast guard ship caught up with us, and launched a Zodiak from which we were boarded.”
On Friday the US boat, The Audacity of Hope, left port, only to be blocked by the coast guard, who towed the ship back to port, where it is being detained. The captain of that boat was jailed and charged with a felony.
Earlier, David Heap, aboard the Tahrir, said that preventing the boats from sailing was a “clear violation” of human rights.
“The Tahrir is leaving port in Crete, and we are breaking through Israel’s Gaza blockade which now extends to Greek ports,” Heap said.
Contact the Greek Embassy in Canada and tell them to “Let the Freedom Flotilla sail”: Call 613-238-6271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Full contact information for the Greek Embassy and Consulates in Canada are:
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Follow the Canadian Boat for Gaza
Visit tahrir.ca for updates on the Canadian Boat for Gaza.
You can also follow the CBG on Twitter at @CanadaBoatGaza and @TahrirCanada. You can also follow co-founder and steering committee member of Independent Jewish Voices and the Canadian Boat to Gaza Dylan Penner, one of the CBG delegates, at @DylanPenner. Flotilla hashtags: #Canada4Gaza, #flotilla2 and #FF2StayHuman.